Illinois institutions show decrease in funding while UI sees increase in students


Cindy Om

Source: UI Division of Management Information

By Yasmeen Ragab, Contributing writer

The recent Illinois state budget crisis has placed a strain on public universities, drawing a bigger concern for student enrollment numbers in these state-funded institutions.

Funding for state colleges fell by 61 percent for the 2015-2016 school year, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. This was in addition to Illinois reducing its funding of state colleges by 41 percent between 2002 and 2015.

The Illinois Budget Impasse – a budget crisis that lasted from July 2015 to August 2017 – left Illinois without a state budget for three fiscal years.

State universities witnessed funds decline, like Western Illinois University’s funds that fell from $63 million in 2015 to $31.4 million in 2016. Western Illinois also laid off over 100 employees, according to a report by CNN. Northeastern Illinois University also eliminated 180 positions in May of 2017.

All of the University of Illinois campuses recently rolled out a tuition freeze, a plan that was intended to increase enrollment in the UI university system, particularly by Illinoisans and underrepresented minorities, according to the Chicago Tribune in early 2017.

“We have found that a lot of the reason that qualified students leave the state is on the basis of cost,” University of Illinois President Tim Killeen told the Chicago Tribune. “We need to be competitive on cost. We need to do that to preserve our talent.”

The University witnessed an increase in total undergraduate enrollment by over 150 students in the fall of 2017. The Chicago campus saw an increase in enrollment this fall as well, while the Springfield campus did not.

The Springfield campus was not immune to many of the negative effects of the budget impasse, and total enrollment there dropped by nine percent.

The University of Illinois system increased its overall enrollment by 2,300 students, contrary to what was thought would happen due to the budget crisis.

The University witnessed a small decrease in freshman enrollment between 2016 and 2017.


According to the University of Illinois Division of Management Information, 7,582 freshmen enrolled in  the fall of 2016 and only 7,518 in the fall of 2017. These totals are based on the number of students enrolled in classes on the 10th day of classes this fall.

Illinois natives also made up less of the incoming class this fall, which is a blow to the intended goal of the tuition freeze.

“Competition from schools outside of the state with generous scholarship awards appears to be the most significant factor in the decision not to enroll at Illinois,” the University said in a news release earlier this year.

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